Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 75
    Choice, a luxury of the Corleones, is denied to the Sullivans and Rooneys, and choice or its absence is the difference between Sophocles and Shakespeare. I prefer Shakespeare.
  2. 75
    Romanticizes gangland Chicago, but no more so than other films set in the same period. And, like almost every movie about the mob, this one deals with themes of family, loyalty, and betrayal -- albeit without the intensity of some of the great ones ("The Godfather," "Goodfellas").
  3. 75
    Paved with such good intentions and talent that it's sad to report this lavishly mounted gangster epic - the most serious-minded Hollywood film of the season - doesn't come close to living up to expectations.
  4. 100
    Has the juice to get its hooks into you, knock you off balance and keep you that way for two hours. It's a triumph for director Sam Mendes. The passion and precision of his Road work is staggering.
  5. Subdued yet percolating with suppressed emotion.
  6. A change from summer fare, but it doesn't make the picture compelling to watch. You won't find the detail of the "Godfather" films or the psychological complexities of Martin Scorsese's gangster movies. The plot holes are big enough to hide Al Capone's illicit millions in.
  7. A truly majestic visual tone poem.
  8. There's much that's simplistically grand, worthy, and fine in Perdition. If I yearn for less measured filmmaking that cries out with more reckless despair, it's because I think hell on earth is a meaner, much more interesting, and far less tidy cinematic place than Mendes trusts his audience to handle.
  9. Long and winding though it may be, Road to Perdition gets to places that are well worth the trip.
  10. 100
    Mendes, in only his second feature (following the Oscar-winning "American Beauty"), has told this surprisingly resonant story with the potent, unrelenting fatalism of a previously unknown Greek myth.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    This dark, almost mythic heart is what makes the film such an emotionally rich experience.
  12. There's something impressive and yet lacking about everything.
  13. 100
    Overflowing with melancholy and tragedy, Road to Perdition is one of the most somber gangster pictures ever made.
  14. 63
    Its seriousness is welcome. It's also a burden the film can't completely surmount.
  15. Results are classy entertainment with little to interest women viewers but very shrewdly and cleverly put together, and probably more rewarding in long-range terms if you invest in Fox or Dreamworks than if you actually see the movie.
  16. Try as he might, (Hanks) is miscast in Road to Perdition, a partly satisfying gangster drama that amounts to less than the sum of its handsome parts.
  17. Mendes -- wants to have it both ways, to get close to mob life, but be no part of it. And he keeps us at a dime-novel distance, too. He has made a dreamy, poetic impression of a world that exists only on film and in comic strips, and that has no resonance for most of us.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sam Mendes' much-anticipated second effort after his Oscar-winning "American Beauty" finds him working in a very different key while displaying an even more pronounced attentiveness to tone, genre variations and artistic niceties.
  19. 83
    It's a dark, brooding, moody film that follows a grim narrative to a logical inevitability and is nonetheless fully infused with a spirit of humanity.
  20. Paradoxically, the closer Mendes gets to his characters, the more remote Perdition becomes. One wishes that his film had as much heart as it does art.
  21. It's a genteel film with a gun in its pocket, but it's also a film with a universal chord of feeling that keeps welling up from the dark surfaces and violent byways of the plot-and a final confession that both warms the heart and chills the blood.
  22. This is a remarkably good-looking near-corpse of a film, with a pulse that fades in and out.
  23. The movie misfires: It's numbingly cold and soulless, and the zeitgeist stays far beyond its reach. But it's so visually striking you almost don't notice, its relentlessly somber mood has a certain masochistic appeal and, while hardly a career-redefining performance, Hanks is as winning as ever.
  24. 50
    On screen, Road to Perdition becomes a lace-curtain shoot-'em-up about fathers and sons. The graphic novel is more kinetic and more powerful than the motion picture.
  25. 50
    Feels like a movie that keeps wishing it were something else: an award-winning play, a grand novel, an epic poem, anything but that populist thing we call a movie. Mendes makes movies as if he hates them.
  26. 70
    Mendes' second effort plays like a familiar song transposed to a minor key, a gangland fable soaked in portent and fatalism until its familiarity ceases to be an issue.
  27. 60
    Visually more coherent than "American Beauty," but despite the burnished mahogany of Conrad Hall's cinematography, Mendes still doesn't quite know how to fill a frame. Like the Hanks character, he's a slow study: The action is stilted and the tabloid energy embalmed.
  28. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Impressive yet always self-conscious, Perdition has more class and less sass than any movie in a while.
  29. 40
    Like a date who's primped too long to arrive at dinner with something to talk about, Road to Perdition is beautifully groomed and a perfect drag to be with.
  30. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Law gives a doozy of a performance: He's fond of bulging his eyes, curling his head like a gargoyle, and displaying a set of rotten yellow teeth. This is some of the most flamboyantly bad acting since Brad Pitt in "Twelve Monkeys" (1995). An Oscar nomination would appear inevitable.
  31. It's a dirty, ugly, joyless world these fathers and sons live in, and for all the passion involved, of retribution and a father's fierce love, Perdition is as emotionally distant as Sullivan. The feelings are all there, just submerged.
  32. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Self-conscious to the point of suffocation.
  33. 70
    For all the beauty and power of Road to Perdition, there's not much spontaneity in it, and the movie's flawless surface puts a stranglehold on meaning. [15 July 2002. p. 90]
  34. In the scenes between Hanks and Newman, we get glimpses of greatness.
  35. 70
    I'm not sure Sam Mendes' latest is a masterpiece as so many critics are exclaiming but it is very probably the most artful and earnest drama ever adapted from a comic book.
  36. This movie would be worth feting in any season. It's wrenching but never manipulative, stoic but never dull, exhausting but never wearying.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 128 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 69
  2. Negative: 8 out of 69
  1. Jul 8, 2014
    Overall, this one is quite good. The acting, as expected from a cast of this kind of talent (Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, AND Stanley Tucci?!) is awesome. I was kind of worried about Hanks playing an against type character, but he did so very well and really stood out. In addition, the cinematography is breathtaking at almost every turn. Each image is beautifully crafted and not enough praise can be given to it. Road to Perdition is a definite slow burner, but never fails to completely grip you and really pays off at the end with a very touching, tragic, and moving, ending. For the most part, this one really rises above what you would expect from a typical gangster film and really finds a way to make all of these people seem entirely human. In addition, in a short period of time, all of the characters are well crafted, in large part thanks to a great script. Now, is this a great film? No, but it is certainly a damn good one that lives up to the hype for me. Full Review »
  2. Jun 28, 2014
    A dark, action packed crime drama from the director of American Beauty. Road to perdition will thrill you, shock you, involve you and endear you with its touching story. Road to perdition is very underrated and easily one of my favourite movies ever. The movie is stunning crime thriller with an unpredictable epilogue. Full Review »
  3. May 6, 2014
    When Road To Perdition hit theaters, it was critically acclaimed and was eventually nominated for six Academy Awards. While it was a great film, it was very dark and fails to deliver the emotional impact that it intended to have on it's audience. In the 1930s, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a family man living in the suburban mid-west. By all accounts, he is a normal man, who is hiding one very dark secret, he is a hit-man for an organized crime syndicate. His secret is safe and life continues on as usual until one day, his son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), witnesses his father execute someone. Sullivan assures his bosses that everything is fine and his son won't say anything, but when has the mob ever taken that chance? Sullivan and his family are targeted for elimination and only he and his son manage to escape to Chicago, where he plans his revenge. As with most films based on a novel, the story here is top notch and very well written. Tom Hanks is the premier actor of our time, a man who will be remembered for centuries, but was he really the right choice to play Michael Sullivan? Hanks has many amazing skills as an actor, but playing such a cold, sedentary character, Hanks is unable to use his many tools and gives a performance that is very dry. The audience simply doesn't relate to Sullivan the way they relate to his son, and that brings the emotional impact of the film way below what it was intended to be. Tyler Hoechlin is fairly well known now, but when he got this role, it was his first, and he beat out over 10,000 other kids to get it. I don't know who any of those other kids were, but Hoechlin couldn't have had much competition, because he was out of this world good. It's a shame that the Academy rarely recognizes kids and that Paul Newman got the Best Supporting Actor nod over Hoechlin, because this kid is really the only one who comes off in a way that the writers originally intended. Road To Perdition was a tremendous story and was full of award winning actors, but the star power was more important to the producers, then finding actors who fit the characters as they were written. Aside from that and a painfully predictable ending, that you have to see coming, this was a pretty good film. I loved the setting and how dark it was, as well as the originality of a film that takes places nearly 60 years ago. I just find it ironic that in a cast full of Academy Award winning actors, it's a kid who steals the show. Full Review »